Sad Dads and Troubled Tots: Protective Factors Related to the Stability of Paternal Depression and Early Childhood Internalizing Problems

Abstract

The present study tested the moderating role of interparental relationship quality and child inhibitory control on the stability of paternal depression over time and associations between paternal depression and child internalizing problems in early childhood. Participants were a subsample (n = 166) of families from the Early Steps Multisite study, a longitudinal study of low-income parents and children. Interparental relationship quality (age 2) attenuated the association between paternal depressive symptoms at age 2 and paternal depressive symptoms at age 3. Both interparental relationship quality (age 3) and child inhibitory control (age 3) attenuated the association between paternal depressive symptoms (age 3) and age 4 child internalizing problems. Results suggest that high interparental relationship quality may be a protective factor in terms of lessening the stability of paternal depressive symptoms over time, as well as the association between paternal depression and later child internalizing problems. Similarly, high levels of inhibitory control may buffer children from the negative effects of paternal depression on the development of internalizing problems.

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Taraban, L., Feldman, J.S., Wilson, M.N. et al. Sad Dads and Troubled Tots: Protective Factors Related to the Stability of Paternal Depression and Early Childhood Internalizing Problems. J Abnorm Child Psychol 48, 935–949 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-020-00649-0

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Keywords

  • Paternal depression
  • Interparental relationship quality
  • Inhibitory control
  • Family context
  • Child internalizing problems